Intercultural Bench 

Intercultural Bench – 
International Design Workshop Week ‘React by Design: Commons’ 2020
The concept of commons resides in language, knowledge, habits. Culture. Cities call for more spaces dedicated to commons. Commons are spaces that stimulate and establish relations between people (from same or different cultures).

We understand the concept of commons also as a gesture of generosity towards the public, and find this concept embodied in one of the most archetypical items of furniture that is inscribed in the language, culture and social spaces of our cities: the public bench. We imagine a place where people encounter, a free andaccessible place for everybody, in our public, collective space. A place to rest, to wait, to reside, to read, to tell stories, to chat,to play; to be alone as well as to welcome company.

Even though in myriad variations, we can find the public bench every where and in all times. Seats have been around in cities for millennia. Before there were chairs, or even tables, there were benches. It is the very ubiquity of the public bench, its presence in our consciousness as an archetype and its representation of urban life which leads us to propose the public bench as a common. It can serve as an object for intercultural dialogue, on form,meaning and use. Bridging individuals and cultures, evokingquestions on how people live, what their traditions are and howthey use public space and its furniture.

The bench as a big gesture symbolises the three future connections between Luchtbal and Lambrechtshoeken from a very central and visible part in Luchtbal. A new 35 meter-long bench that rises up to accentuate these future routes. Reflective metal pipes of different heights and diameters are placed with a distance of 1,14m between axes and are slid into the ground in different depths, as a foundation. The level of the wooden coloured panels connect the cylinders in an ascending way, step by step.

Resulting from the research with 17 students and residents different functions and forms can answer to the different needs and, at the same time, evoke unexpected situations, such as encounters, a playground, ...

Together with the students we went on-site, to physically mark the bench, its size and its directions. Enlarging the gesture, which resulted in a 35 meter long bench. By using a simple modular system and a detailed manual of construction everybody could, potentially, be involved in building and extending the bench or reproduce it in another location. The choice of the location is to occupy a certain piece of public space and claim for more dynamic and interactive common spaces outside.

Education, on-site Workshop 

Faculty of Design Sciences (UAntwerp) 

Antwerp, Belgium 


rotative studio

Alexandra Sonnemans, Caterina Viguera

rotative studio

Workshop students:
Annelien Michielsen, Anthony Collin, Christophe Demarbaix, Dana Renders, Emma Scheers, Gerben Van Wauwe, Ine Vanden Bergh, Jasmien de Hoon, Jolien Hendricx, Julie Tyberghien, Liesbeth Broothaers, Charlotte De Reys, Nabina Follong, Noémie de Oliveira, Robin Peeters, Stien Aerts, Tim Verlinden